Salvage of Dutch ship adrift off Norway postponed for a day

International

The unmanned Dutch cargo ship Eemslift Hendrika rolls in heavy seas, carrying heavy oil and diesel on board in the Norwegian Sea about 130 kilometers (80 miles) off the coast of Alesund. The crew was evacuated following a distress call from the vessel, and the Norwegian Coastal Administration said Tuesday they have dispatched a coast guard ship to inspect the situation. (Coast Guard Ship Sortland / NTB via AP)

HELSINKI (AP) — Bad weather conditions have postponed efforts to salvage a Dutch cargo ship that’s been drifting off the coast of Norway for two days after its crew was evacuated, Norwegian maritime officials said Wednesday.

Norwegian and Dutch salvage experts are now expected to try again Thursday.

“Life and health are always the first priority during an incident like this, and it must be safe to carry out the rescue,” said Hans Petter Mortensholm, emergency director at the Norwegian Coastal Administration.

The weather in the region has improved slightly and the ship was no longer in immediate danger of capsizing — even though it was listing at a 40-50 degree angle — Norwegian officials said.

However, it’s slowly being carried landward by the waves, and there is a risk that it could run aground later Wednesday. The vessel has substantial quantities of diesel and fuel in its tanks, which could cause an environmental disaster if released into the sea.

The Eemslift Hendrika, a Netherlands-registered special ship designed to carry boats on its deck, is adrift in an area where the North Sea and Norwegian Sea meet, some 40-50 kilometers (25-31 miles) off the shore and the city of Alesund.

The crew of 12 was evacuated to shore by helicopter after the ship sent a distress call following a power outage in its main engine in heavy seas late Monday.

Norwegian news agency NTB said that under a salvage plan four Dutch rescue experts would be lowered onto the Eemslift Hendrika by helicopter, after which they would attach towing ropes to secure the vessel to two waiting tug boats.

One large boat aboard the deck of the 6-year-old Eemslift Hendrika fell off the vessel in heavy seas Tuesday, helping to stabilize the ship.

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